About a week ago I made a joke about posting a list of 3B prospects currently within the A's organization. Since I didn't bring up salb's height or Nico's goat affection some people didn't realize that I was telling a joke. So I'd like to set things straight once and for all...
There is no list.
Because there are no legit 3B prospects in the Oakland organization at this time.
That's the joke! HA!
Eric Chavez is the past, present and future 3B of the Oakland Athletics for the next two, possibly three years. Woe be unto the A's should something happen to him because after him...
Here's what I can tell you about Eric Chavez with absolute certainty: He's hoping to be healthy in time for Spring Training and is under contract for $11 million in 2009, $12 million in 2010 and there is a team controlled option in 2011 for $12.5 million with a $3 million buy-out. Chavez turns 31 in a week and will do his best to return to his previous, healthy level of play.
Anything anyone tells you beyond that is pure speculation.
The 2008 Plan B was Jack Hannahan, who managed a god-awful 647 OPS (77 OPS+) but played either an excellent or below-average 3B with the bat. RZR considered him the best defender among qualifying 3B, Plus/Minus said he saved 21 runs and DRS says he cost the A's 1.23 runs. You've just gotta love those defensive metrics. Mark-1 eyeball scouting gives him a thumbs-up with the glove so I'm going to err on the positive for a change and say the A's were happy with Hannahan's defense. So does this mean Hannahan is Plan B next year?
Jeff Baisley would be next in line, problem is he's had trouble staying healthy the last two years. He played in 81 games for the Sacramento River Cats and spent a little bit of time on the Oakland roster in September. He's a RH bat with a little bit of pop who's gotten acceptable reviews with the glove. He'd be Olmedo Saenz with a better glove if he didn't struggle to hit lefties. In the 197 at bats he's had vs. LHP since he graduated Low-A ball, Baisley has managed to not hit to the tune of 213/299/391 with 24 walks and 34 strike outs. 221 plate appearances are not enough to form a definitive conclusion regarding Baisley's ability to hit lefties... but he ain't done good so far.
My guess is if the A's feel Chavez is ready to play 5 days a week they'll keep Baisley up as his back-up and send Hannahan down to Sacramento so he can play everyday and stay sharp. If Chavez needs more down time then Hannahan stays and Baisley goes back to Sac. Or I'm completely wrong and Cliff Pennington or Gregorio Petit somehow work their way into the back-up mix.
Skipping down to AA Midland, Jesus Guzman tore up the Texas League in 2008 and looked to be a dark horse canidate to possibly cover/replace Eric Chavez. Then the A's let Mr. Guzman go as a minor league free agent and he signed with the SF Giants.
Midland's 2009 3B could be interesting. Or not. The A's seem determined to give top prospect Chris Carter every opportunity to play 3B. This is a long shot at best, and if Carter is Midland's everyday 3B than there's a good chance that Adrian Cardenas will be playing SS. Here's where things get interesting. A Carter/Cardenas left side of the infield is not going to help Trevor Cahill or any Midland pitcher defensively. How long will the A's allow their infield science experiments go on at the expense of their young pitching?
Carter put up a fairly impressive line between High-A Stockton and the Hawaiian Winter League, playing in 160 games and hitting 255/358/544 with 41 HR and 94 walks in 585 at bats. The downside was 184 strike-outs and a shaky glove. Cardenas didn't put up an impressive line, especially after joining the Oakland organization. He posted a 656 OPS between Stockton, Midland and the AFL and those are all good places to hit. His overall numbers were 133 games and 486 at bats for a 288/358/383 line. The power came in the form of 19 doubles, 6 triples and 5 HR at a 53/83 BB/K rate. Big league teams generally want more offense than that from their 3B. Plus, the A's keep running him out to play SS so we can't really call him a 3B prospect at this point.
If the A's are even going to have the option of saving some cash and replacing Chavez in 2011, then his replacement needs to be found on Midland's 2009 roster. Is that guy here? Let's just say if the A's have a quality 3B prospect fall to them in the 1st round of the 2009 draft they'd be fools to let him slip by.
As for the lower levels of the organization... nothing.
An empty pit of darkness modeled after Bobby Crosby's swing.
It's possible that the A's could move one of Jason Christian, Nino Leyja or Dustin Coleman to 3B and it is likely that they'll continue their program of moving guys around the field to see where folks best fit, but at this point the 2008 draft class is too far away to factor into the decision to keep Chavez beyond 2010.
You know, it's never a good thing when you have to explain the joke.